Red Devil Cichlids, scientifically known as Amphilophus labiatus, originate from Central America. They’re commonly found in slow-moving rivers, calm lakes, and peaceful ponds.
Specifically, these colorful fish are found in Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua. Their environment is characterized by calm open waters which cater to the Red Devil Cichlid’s instinctual preference for such habitats.
In their natural surroundings, they gravitate toward rocky areas with plenty of hiding spots for safety.
Red Devil Cichlids are also found in various bodies of water in Costa Rica. Like their Nicaraguan counterparts, they prefer open waters, slow currents, and abundant hideouts.
Red Devil Cichlid Appearance and Lifespan
Red Devil Cichlids have a sturdy and intimidating appearance, characterized by their pointed dorsal and anal fins. These fins are notable for their swept appearance, which enables their agility and speed underwater.
In terms of color, wild Red Devil Cichlids usually are grey or brown, allowing them to blend into their environment. However, captive Red Devil Cichlids can be found in vibrant shades of red, white, and yellow, with some even having black-tipped fins and tails.
Their lips are thick and rubbery, typically orange but occasionally black. The size of their lips is thought to be influenced by their diet, but there is currently no research to support this. Inside their mouths, they have large teeth and extremely strong jaws, indicating their predatory nature.
Red Devil Cichlids can live up to 10 years on average in captivity. However, some have been known to live up to 12 years with high-quality care. To achieve this lifespan, it’s essential to maintain optimal water quality and provide a suitable habitat.
Physical Characteristics of Red Devil Cichlid
Red Devil Cichlids, when fully grown, typically measure around 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) long. They reach their full size by the age of 3, with males generally being larger than females.
These fish have elongated bodies that are laterally compressed, ending in a fan-shaped tail. They have pointed dorsal and anal fins that give them speed and agility in the water. Males and females look similar, but adult males have a distinctive bump on their forehead.
In terms of color, wild Red Devil Cichlids are usually brown or grey, allowing them to blend into the dark waters of Nicaraguan Lakes. In captivity, their color range is wider, including white, yellow, red, and orange. About 10% of these fish change color as they get older, a trait known as xanthomorphism. Some also have black-tipped fins and tails.
One defining feature of Red Devil Cichlids is their thick, rubbery lips, which are usually orange but can also be black. The size of their lips is generally related to their diet. They have strong teeth and powerful jaws, making them natural predators whether in captivity or in the wild.
Behavioral Characteristics of Red Devil Cichlids
Red Devil Cichlids are energetic and interactive aquatic pets. They can recognize and interact with their owners, sometimes even performing tricks or begging for food. Yet, they have a noticeable aggressive streak, which makes them territorial. They often fight with other tank inhabitants and even chew on objects within their reach.
Although they only grow to an average length of 15 inches, Red Devil Cichlids have large teeth in their jaws that can deliver a strong bite.
Red Devil Cichlids are omnivores and will eat most food that enters their tank. Their mood can be influenced by the size and quality of their habitat. A small or poorly equipped tank can make them grumpy and more aggressive. On the contrary, a large and well-equipped tank can help them stay calmer.
It’s best to keep Red Devil Cichlids alone because of their territorial nature. If you want to keep them with others, introduce them to the shared space when they’re young to help reduce their aggressive tendencies. However, they become more territorial and less willing to share their space as they mature.
Breeding Red Devil Cichlids is relatively easy, even for beginners. Both males and females guard their young until they’re able to swim freely and take care of themselves.
How to Set up An Aquarium for The Red Devil Cichlid?
Setting up an aquarium for a Red Devil Cichlid needs careful planning.
Tank size is the most important factor when setting up a Red Devil Cichlid tank. A single Red Devil Cichlid needs a minimum 55-gallon tank. For a pair, a 125-gallon tank is necessary. Choose a 200-gallon tank or bigger if you wish to add other species.
After determining the tank size, the next step is the tank setup. Red Devil Cichlids often dig, so a dark-colored sandy substrate is ideal.
Include rocks and driftwood to provide hiding spots. Make sure these are securely fixed to prevent Red Devil Cichlids from moving them. Also, avoid live plants since these fish are aggressive and can uproot the plants. Finally, leave ample open space for swimming.
Regarding water conditions, maintain a temperature between 75.0°F to 79.0°F (23.9°C to 26.1°C), a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, and hardness between 6 to 25 dGH. Use a filtration system that creates a moderate current.
A dual filtration system, including a sump style and/or canister filter, is recommended. Mount these externally or behind stable objects to protect them from getting damaged by the Red Devil Cichlids’ aggression. There are no specific lighting requirements. Normal to moderate lighting is fine.
Red Devil Cichlids are best kept alone due to their aggressive nature. When young, they can coexist with other similar-tempered species. However, their aggression increases upon maturation. If you plan to keep a breeding pair or introduce other species, make sure the tank is spacious enough for all the fish to establish and defend their territories.
Red Devil Cichlid Diet
A healthy diet is crucial for the well-being and longevity of your Red Devil Cichlid. These fish are omnivores and need a varied diet to flourish. They aren’t fussy eaters, providing a wide range of food options.
A balanced diet for your Red Devil Cichlid should contain high-quality flakes or cichlid pellets. These are available in stores and provide the necessary nutrients for your fish. It’s recommended to choose high-quality brands for complete nutrition.
Their diet should also include live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and chopped earthworms, which are their favorites. This not only varies their mealtime but also keeps their predatory instincts sharp.
Red Devil Cichlids also need vegetables in their diet. Foods like blanched peas, lettuce, or spirulina flakes should be added daily. This helps prevent vitamin deficiencies and maintains their overall health.
Ideal Tank Mates for Red Devil Cichlid
Red Devil Cichlids are known for their aggressive behavior, but they can coexist with a few select species.
For instance, a male and female Red Devil Cichlid can live together peacefully. However, two males should not be put in the same tank.
Plecos are also a good option since they are bottom-dwellers and don’t interfere with the Red Devil Cichlid.
Tire Track Eels and Oscar Fish are other potential companions. Tire Track Eels burrow into the substrate, avoiding the Red Devil Cichlids. While Oscars swim at mid to top levels, leaving the Red Devil Cichlid undisturbed.
Wolf Cichlids are another ideal tank mate for Red Devil Cichlids. They’re large, sturdy, and can withstand the Red Devil Cichlids’ aggressive behavior. However, a large tank is essential for their coexistence, and they must be constantly monitored.
Also, Red Devil Cichlids shouldn’t be housed with small fish, since they’re territorial and will eat them. A community tank must be at least 200 gallons and equipped with plants and hiding places. Any fish in the tank should be the same size or larger than the Red Devil Cichlid.
Keep in mind that Red Devil Cichlids can become more aggressive as they mature and enter breeding age, so monitor them for signs of stress and physical damage.
How to Breed Red Devil Cichlid?
Breeding Red Devil Cichlids need a large tank of at least 55 gallons, hiding spots, and flat rocks for spawning. Avoid adding plants since these fish tend to uproot them. Maintain the water temperature at 77°F (25°C), a pH of 6.0 to 8.0, and hardness between 6 to 25 dGH.
A community tank isn’t recommended during the breeding of Red Devil Cichlids due to their territorial nature.
Feed your Red Devil Cichlids a mix of dry frozen foods, live foods, and occasionally, mammal-based meats. This diet is especially vital during the breeding season.
Red Devil Cichlids are monogamous fish. Males prepare the area for egg-laying, after which the females lay the eggs. Male Red Devil Cichlids then fertilize and guard the eggs. After hatching, they continue to guard the fry. It’s advisable to separate the male from the female to protect the fry.
Feed the fry with baby brine shrimp or crushed flakes. After two to three weeks, they become free-swimming and independent.